PA Officials Get Extension on $4.3M County-Wide SAFER Grant

Hoses running from a fire truck

Megan Tomasic

The Tribune-Review, Greensburg

(TNS)

Sep. 30—Hempfield leaders were granted a six month extension for a federal grant that benefits fire departments across Westmoreland County.

According to James Shaw, Hempfield’s director of code and safety, the deadline for using the $4.3 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grant, was moved from Nov. 24 to May 24, 2022. Township officials earlier this year discussed asking for an extension after the covid-19 pandemic hampered efforts.

“Our goal since the inception of this grant was to use it to its maximum ability to benefit our volunteer firefighters and this extension gives us the ability to utilize all funds that were awarded to us,” Shaw said.

There is about $600,000 remaining in the grant, which will be used for physicals, personal protection equipment, training and tuition reimbursement.

The grant is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency with the goal of providing funding to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help increase or maintain the number of trained firefighters. The township has been managing the $4.3 million grant for all of Westmoreland County’s fire departments since it was awarded in 2017.

In all, the grant is being shared by 60 departments representing 83 of the county’s fire stations.

Since it was awarded, money has gone toward training and physicals for new firefighters. Departments also received money to outfit new recruits. In addition, firefighters received tuition reimbursement and stipends for firefighters who meet certain requirements. Every firefighter was provided with accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

In addition to the county wide SAFER grant, Hempfield leaders also applied for a similar grant this year that would benefit the township’s fire department.

According to Shaw, township officials are in the application phase of the process and are working with a grant writer to submit the application later this year.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, mtomasic@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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